Friday, September 3, 2010

Tree Peonies for your Garden

Koukamon  Tree Peony at

High Noon Tree Peony at

Hana Kisoi Tree Peony at

Tree peonies are not really trees

Tree Peonies are woody shrubs with flowers so commanding, it's easy to see why
they're known as the Queen of Flowers. They will grow to mature in 5 to 10 years. And the blossoms will reach 5-6" on plants that range from 2 1/2' to 5' tall. Growing tree peonies follow the old Chinese saying: “Grow the "above ground parts" in the spring, doze off in the summer, grow roots in the fall, and go to sleep in the winter.

Planting Location for Tree Peonies

Choose a well-drained location, with 4-6 hours of direct sun or dappled sun/shade Hephestos Tree Peony at all day. Some light shade from the hot mid-day sun and protection from drying winds can be most helpful However, do not plant them in a completely open area to prevent the wind from blowing away the flower petals.
Ideal plant areas are north, south or west facing.
The soil must be deep and loose, with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5; or even garden soil with neutral ph.

Keep in mind that most tree peonies will grow 4-7 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. Do not plant closer than 8-10 ft from large trees.
Full sun will make the flowers fade rapidly. Full shade will result in weak and very slow growth.

View available Tree Peonies

Planting Tree Peonies

Plant the graft union 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface as shown in the photo to the right. This helps the plant develop its own roots in addition to the grafted roots. The graft union looks like a bulge on the main stem just above the roots. After planting, only an inch or two of the woody stem may show above the ground. So, be sure to mark where you planted it!

Fall is the best season to plant, because it helps development of new roots and recovery for normal growth in the next spring. If tree peony is divided or planted in spring, the root system cannot recover before the growth and development of the parts above ground. Thus the nutrient supply cannot match the need and the plant may lose its vitality, and effect their normal growth, flowering will not return until after several years cultivation.

Fertilizing Tree Peonies

It is not necessary to fertilize at planting in the fall. Starting the second year, it is recommended that fertilizer be applied three times a year. Use a complete or organic fertilizer. Follow the instructions provided with the fertilizer to determine the amount required.

  1. 1st Application: Should be done in the early spring as soon as the soil is workable. At this time, the leaf may not be fully developed and spread, but the roots are actively growing.

  2. 2nd Application: Apply soon after blooming. This will help the plant recover and will provide the necessary nutrients for new growth.

  3. 3rd Application: The final fertilization stage should take place between late fall and early winter. Use half as much fertilizer much as required in the previous two stages.

  4. Watering Tree Peonies

    Once established, tree peonies are drought tolerant plants. Excess water will suffocate the roots and is the leading cause of plant failure. Do not plant near auto-sprinkler systems that keep the soils continuously moist. Do not water until soil is dry below the surface and try not to wet leaves when watering to prevent fungus. Be observant; soil can dry out on top and still be moist 6-12” below the surface. When you feel the soil is dry below the first 4-6”and leaves may droop slightly, water the roots deeply. Climates of hot summer temperatures with little or no rain at all will require more attention to watering then those areas that get some rainfall.

    Failure to follow watering direction will give unsatisfactory results.


  1. Your tree peonies are georgeous!

  2. Just wondering. Do you have any solution for getting grafted tree peonies to root out faster so they don't have to depend on the nurse root anymore?